Role of Acupuncture in Female Infertility

A. What is Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a well tried and tested system which originated from China and is used worldwide to restore, promote and maintain good health of lady so that she can conceive more quickly and carry on pregnancy with least chances of abortion.

In conjunction with needling, moxibustion and electro acupuncture is also used in selected patients if need be.

Acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual.

The doctor’s skill lies in identifying the precise nature of underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The choice of acupuncture points is specific to each patient’s needs.

B. How Acupuncture helps in infertility 

 Acupuncture helps in infertility by following ways:

  1. It regulates fertility hormones
  1. It promotes release of beta endorphins in the brain which regulates hormones useful for pregnancy. ( Anderson 2007, Huang 2008, Stener-Victorin 2010 )
  1. It increases blood flow to the reproductive organs ( Ho 2009, Andersan 2009 ) which can improve the thickness of endometrium lining thus increasing the chances of implantation. ( Lim 2010 )
  1.  It increases egg production ( Jin 2009 ) and its quality ( Chen 2009 ) which increases chances of fertilisation.
  1. It increases embryo implantation ( Lin 2008 )


C. Clinical Trials 

  1. An observational study in which 104 women with unexplained infertility received acupuncture over a period of six menstrual cycles. 23 completed the whole course with 14 pregnancies (61%) leading to 10 live births and 4 miscarriages. The outcome was encouraging.

    Park JJ, Kang M, Shin S, Choi E et al. Unexplained infertility treated with acupuncture in Korea. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Feb; 16(2): 193-8
  1. A randomised controlled trial with 240 women with hormonal infertility, 160 got acupuncture and 80 got medications. The pregnancy rate was 65% in acupuncture group and 45% in medication group, a statistically significant difference (p<0.5) 

    Yang JR, Ma YY, Liu YL, Wang HL, Liu Z Controlled study on acupuncture for treatment of endocrine functional infertility. Zhongguo Zhenjiu. 2005; 25(5): 299-300
  1. A radomised controlled trial that evaluated the effect of acupuncture on reproductive outcome in 273 women undergoing IVF concluded that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome of IVF compared to no acupuncture group.

    Westergaard LG et al. Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer: a prospective randomized trial. Fertil Steril 2006;85:1341-6
  1. A study that looked whether changes in seum cortisol and prolactin are affected by acupuncture in IVF patients. In all 67 infertile women undergoing IVF were grouped as controls ( IVF with no acupuncture) and treated ( IVF with acupuncture ). Both cortisol and prolactin levels were higher in acupuncture group on IVF days 7,8,9,11,12 and 13 compared with controls.

The researchers concluded that there appears to be beneficial regulation of cortisol and prolactin with acupuncture during IVF treatment

Magarelli PC et al. Changes in serum cortisol and prolactin associated with acupuncture during controlled ovarian hyperstimulation in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation – embryo transfer treatment. Fertil Steril 2008; 92(6): 1870-9

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Dr. Madhusudan Aggarwal
M.B.B.S, D.N.B. (M.D), Dip. Acup. (Beijing)
On Panel : Embassy of U.S.A, France & Germany
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